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Red Hat, Novell sued for patent infringment

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Just days after Steve Ballmer again raised the spectre of patent lawsuits being filed against Linux companies, Red Hat is being sued for patent infringement.

Ballmer told developers in London that anyone using Red Hat software effectively owed him money. Ballmer said: "People who use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation eventually to compensate us." More here.

IP Innovation LLC and Technology Licensing Corporation filed against Red Hat and Novell on 9 October. The complaint accuses Red Hat and Novell of infringing three patents, all of which appear to have originally been assigned to Xerox.

Red Hat is accused of breaking several patents relating to "User Interface with Multiple Workspaces for Sharing Display System Objects".

The complaint, available here as a pdf, says "the Red Hat Linux system, the Novell Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop and the Novell Suse Linux Enterprise Server all breach held patents. The companies seek increased damages for the willful infringements of their patents and an injunction to prevent further infringments".

For the conspiracy theorists, Groklaw noted that Acacia Research, the owner of IP Innovations, appointed Jonathan Taub as a vice president - Taub was previously at Microsoft. On 1 October Acacia appointed another senior vice president, Brad Brunell, who worked at Microsoft for 16 years, most recently as general manager of Intellectual Property Licensing.

Groklaw has a more detailed explanation here. ®

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